Crafting,  Our Adventures

How to make…a reusable plastic bag

I love visiting with my sister, Annette, and her husband.  She is pretty good at keeping busy, and her latest visit earlier this month was no exception.  From converting a huge brush pile into usable firewood to picking blueberries, to making her sought-after, crocheted, reusable bags— their visit was a whirlwind of enjoyable adventures.

Annette, and her husband, Andrew, run a micro-business on the outskirts of Colorado Springs, Colorado making and selling homemade apple sauce and other handmade goods at their local farmers’ markets.  Under the trading name, Enkle Gaver which, in Norwegian, means simple gifts, they’ve built a business that promotes the principles of stewardship, fellowship and gratitude.

Click to open a new window to view the YouTube tutorial. This is a picture of the finished crocheted bag with the words, "making disposable bags reusable."
Click to see the tutorial and learn more about Enkle Gaver

I took the time to sit down with Annette on camera while she was here and, in addition to talking about her company, she also took the time to step through her process for making one of her small reusable bags from start to finish.  She’s a good teacher.  I really hope you enjoy watching her turn disposable plastic bags into a lovely, reusable bag.

Whether you know how to crochet, or not, I hope her guidance in the video will give you the confidence to try it out for yourself.

You’ll need:

  • Between 50 and 250 plastic carrier bags (depending on the size of the bag you want to make)
  • Scissors
  • An “N” sized crochet hook
  • A 48 inch by ¾ inch piece of ribbon to act as handles for the bag

Make the plarn (plastic yarn):

  1. Smooth out your bags so you can fold them.
  2. Taking two or three bags together, fold them in half, vertically, so the two sides of the bag are touching.  Fold again in half, vertically, so that you can cut through the bags easily with the scissors.
  3. Cut off the bottom seam of the bags, and the handles.  These can be recycled or used in a different project; Annette uses them to stuff little crocheted toys that she makes.  (The handles could be tied into loops and used as plarn too, if you wished to take the time to do so.)
  4. With what remains of your folded plastic, fold the piece in half, horizontally, and cut into two at the fold.
  5. Then cut each half into half again.  This will give you four loops per bag.
  6. Connect the loops using a square knot.  Put one loop through another, then slip one half through itself and pull tight.  Continue until all the loops have been connected, making a continuous piece of plastic yarn (plarn).
  7. Roll the plarn into a ball to make it easier to store and work with.

Crochet the bag:

  1. Using the ball of plarn, start by making a slip knot at the end of the plarn to form a loop, insert your crochet hook into the loop and gently tighten the loop around the hook. 
  2. “Chain” four stitches and then join the start and end of the chain to form a circle.
  3. Make your foundation “round.”  Chain three stitches, then attach this back to the circle you made earlier, using a double crochet.  Repeat the double crochet, chain one, seven times.  Attach the last double crochet through the space created by your first, to make a circle.
  4. Finish your bag base.  Increasing each round by seven double crochet stitches, working within the larger “chain one” space that’s created by each double crochet + chain one stitch.  The small bag uses three rounds for the base with the largest being 21 stitches around.  The medium bag uses four rounds with the largest at 28 stitches, and the large bag uses six rounds, 42 stitches around for the base.
  5. When the base has reached your desired size, move to adding the sides of your bag.  Start with a single crochet to act as your foundation point, then in the next chain one space, crochet a “half double” stitch, pulling through all three loops that should be on your crochet hook.  It might be helpful to mark this half double stitch with a safety pin so you can easily reference when you’ve come to the end of each round.
  6. Proceed to spiral 7 rounds of 21 double crochet stitches for the small bag.  Because you are no longer adding additional stitches to each round, you will notice the walls of the bag beginning to take shape.    For a medium-sized bag, stitch ten rounds of 28 and add an 11th row to make a handle for the bag.  The large bag has ten rounds of 42 stitches plus three rounds for the bag’s handle.

Finish the bag:

  1. When you reach the end of the last row, finish with another half-double crochet stitch.
  2. Remove the bag from the ball of plarn by unpicking the next square knot in the plarn ball.
  3. Tidy the final row by doing one further single crochet, then tie a knot to secure.
  4. You can leave the remaining plastic loop for hanging the bag.
  5. Weave a ribbon around the top row of chain one spaces, missing five spaces on either side to act as the handles.
  6. Tie a knot in the ribbon to secure, then move the knot to the inside of the bag to tidy.

Size guide:

Foundation Row: 7 double crochets + chain 1, worked within the chain one spaces.

Bag base3 rounds of 7, 14 and 21 stitches4 rounds of 7, 14, 21 and 28 stitches6 rounds of 7, 14, 21, 28, 35 and 42 stitches
Bag sides7 rounds of 21 stitches10 rounds of 28 stitches10 rounds of 42 stitches
Bag handlesRibbon woven into top round of stitches with gaps of five stitches on either side of the bag.One further round of 28 stitches.  Weave Ribbon into top round of stiches with gaps of seven stitches on either side of the bag.One round of 24 stitches with chain 20 gaps of 10 stitches on either side of the bag. An additional round of 84 double crochet stiches in every stich or chain one space of the preceding round. One further row of 84 single crochets in each double crochet of the preceding round. 
Total rounds101519

What about you?

Inspired to give this a try?  We’d love to see your creations.  Tag @parkerlings using #livingfrugally on your favourite social media to let us see what you make.

Do you live in Colorado and want to visit the Enkle Gaver stand?  In addition to delicious apple sauce and crocheted plastic bags, it’s also where you can purchase our products, like my tea towel tote bags and handmade cards. Check out their website at to get more information and contact them directly.

If you have any comments or questions about this article, please get in touch, using the form below. products available on the Enkle Gaver stand in Monument, Colorado